(Close-up on…) The Sword in the Stone at Disneyland Paris

Join us every week for a visit to our Disney Parks through the films that inspired them! Perhaps the opportunity to (re) discover them on Disney +?

Did you know that Disneyland Paris sits on land that was the site of high society during medieval times? The field of La Marne, located close to Lagny, hosted the largest and most spectacular jousting tournament in Europe in November 1179 to celebrate the coronation of King Philip Augustus. The event attracted more than 3,000 guests, including Richard, Duke of Aquitaine (the future King Richard “The Lionheart”) who is featured in Robin Hood, the classic 1973 animated film.

Chevaux carrousel

This “courtly” legacy can be found prominently in Fantasyland, more precisely in the Castle Courtyard, where Le Carrousel de Lancelot is located. Inspired by the character Chrétien de Troyes imagined in the 12th century, this attraction has 86 horses with 16 on the outer row wearing their caparison, a cloth covering laid over a horse for protection and decoration during tournaments. The attraction is covered by a canopy reminiscent of the knights’ tents, and supported by lances like those that could be used during jousting. This theming continues in the store La Ménagerie du Royaume with a cartoon portrayal of Goofy. Under the canopy, nine paintings depict iconic moments of Lancelot’s life, including his knighting by King Arthur, who gave him the accolade with his sword, Excalibur. 

Carrousel de Lancelot

This legendary sword, stuck in an anvil, can be found in miniature at Le Pays des Contes de Fées and in actual size in the Castle Courtyard. Since the opening of Disneyland Paris in April 1992, many have tried to remove it, especially during “The Sword in the Stone” show launched in September 1994. 

These two references to the royal sword directly hint at Disney’s classic animated film The Sword in the Stone (1963), based on the novel of the same name written by T.H. White and published in 1938. Walt first acquired the film rights to the novel the following year as he immediately saw the potential in this story filled with adventure, humor and magic, which depicts the apprenticeship of young Arthur (then referred to as Wart) and his tutor. A few years after the movie was released, Disney animator Bill Peet admitted using Walt’s face – especially his nose and expressive eyebrows – as inspiration for the portrayal of Merlin!

Walt et le livre The Sword in the Stone

Another location dear to Merlin at Disneyland Paris is set inside Sleeping Beauty Castle, where a store bears his name and includes numerous references to the movie. The tree supporting one of the arches recalls Merlin’s house in the forest, while the stones and beams, intricately arranged, conjure up the fragile north tower of Sir Ector’s castle. It is a well-known fact that the film’s set designers had fun putting together lists of furniture, models and other accessories, each more incredible than the next, to decorate the magician’s interior. This store is filled with strange objects, inventions worthy of Leonardo da Vinci and magic items of all kinds. Meanwhile, a sign, trinket and owl-shaped mantelpiece invoke Archimedes, Merlin’s winged companion.

Plaque Merlin l'enchanteur

But that’s not all! The door at the back of the workshop opens onto a mysterious staircase leading down to the bowels of the castle. That’s where a gigantic three-meter-high, 24-meter-long dragon awaits – the largest Audio-Animatronic at Disneyland Paris. When asleep, the dragon snores, grunts and sighs. From time to time, it has the hiccups. Who knows what relationship the magician and this creature entertain? Have they always known each other or has the magician tamed it at one time or other? What we know for sure is that it is not hostile. If it was once in shackles, this is no longer the case. 

Dragon du chateau

But, be cautious when you step close: it doesn’t like to be woken up!

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